Saturday, April 18, 2009

The demise of the food network

If you haven't heard, the food network has pretty much been unwatchable for the last few years. I used to just keep my TV tuned to the food network from 1999 to 2005, now I can't remember the last time I tuned in.

I never really gave it much thought on how this happened. Its not like I lost interest in cooking of food. Its quite the contrary. I have more interest in cooking and food more than ever. But after I have gave it some thought on why I no longer watch that channel, I am disgusted at the people in charge of the food network. You tune in these days, and you find shows on how junk food is made. Then there are cake making competitions where they seem to make cakes that almost appears to be unedible and resembles plastic and glass. Sandra Lee is showing you how to make a breakfast in bed with canned peaches, a bucket of cool whip, and a squeeze bottle of fake honey. I loved the original Iron Chef, but I loathe Iron Chef America.

And last but not least. Good Eats. It used to be a show I loved, but it quickly lost credibility with me when I finally decided to try a recipe from the show Good Eats. It was terrible. No, its not because I'm that bad in the kitchen. Whenever I try a recipe for the first time, I follow it down to the exact details. I don't substitute, and I'll go out of my way to get all the ingredients, even if they are exotic ingredients. After trying the recipe, I realized that the recipe was just made for TV, and would not be a recipe anyone would consider repeating (or refine) after you've tasted what may come out of that recipe. I'm sure not all recipes of Good Eats were heartless recipes, but all it took was one recipe to make me realize that Alton Brown was not the gastronomic einstein that he was making him out to be. A few years later, I saw the TV biography of Alton Brown. I saw that his credentials were things in cinematography and photography. And that he had only joined a culinary school with the goal of producing his own cooking show. It made perfect sense. There is some educational value on that show, but if they are going to fake about the food, I gotta wonder how much of the science wasn't just fluff. Just like everything on the food network these days, its all about entertainment value, and there is very little importance on the actual food itself. This is why I stopped watching. The food network has turned into the fake food network. Food has become secondary. Entertainment value seems to be everything. I feel betrayed as a viewer.

I think the type of cooking shows I'm looking for these days are by people who can cook like Anthony Bourdain describe in Kitchen Confidential. People who can cook on the line, have leadership skills, and can excute any dish they can conceptualize with speed and accuracy. In other words, chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White. Underneath all that cursing, trash can kicking, and food spitting, Gordon Ramsay has some serious cooking chops from years on working on the line. You get to see very little of it on Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares, but you can see a lot more of it in his UK shows. You look at all the bios in the food network website, and you quickly see that none of these people are qualified to be teaching you anything. Mario Batali, Ming Tsai, Emeril Lagase, and Sara Moulton (All the people I used to watch) seems to have gotten the boot or left on their own accord. And it even gets worse. You have people like Robert Irvine who seems to been revealed to have a fake resume. There were rumors that he was going to get the boot, but no, he's still on the food network. And oh yeah, that food guy from Queer Eye from the Straight Guy has a show on the food network too. Wasn't he more like a foodie than a cook? I guess it doesn't make a difference anymore.

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